Taiwan's Foxconn adjusts dispatch workers' ratio in China

Foxconn Technology

Foxconn Technology (AP photo)

Taiwan-based manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. said Monday that it has been gradually adjusting the dispatch workers ratio in its factories in China to meet legal requirements, in response to accusations that it was hiring too many temporary workers.

A report from U.S.-based labor rights advocacy group China Labor Watch (CLW) on Sunday accused Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn in the global market, of violating the Chinese labor law by hiring too many temporary workers in its Zhengzhou plant to make iPhones.

In the report released by the CLW, the organization said that in August 2019, around 50 percent of the workforce at Hon Hai's Zhengzhou plant were dispatch workers, even though China's labor law stipulated that temporary workers must not exceed 10 percent of a company's workforce.

In August 2018, dispatch workers even accounted for 55 percent of the total workforce at the Zhengzhou complex, the CLW report said.

In response, the Taiwanese supplier to Apple said the ups and downs in the number of dispatch workers depended on whether production was in peak or slow season.

The company said it was gradually adjusting the number and the ratio of dispatch workers to comply with the requirements of China's laws.

The CLW report revealed that several of its investigators were employed at Hon Hai's Zhengzhou Foxconn factory, and one of the investigators worked for Foxconn for more than four years, adding that due to the long investigation period, the report was able to learn many details about the working and living conditions at the factory in Henan province.

"Dubbed Apple's iPhone City," Zhengzhou Foxconn is the largest iPhone factory in the world. Spanning 1.4 million square meters, it is there that workers toil daily to produce half of the iPhones sold worldwide," the report said.

"The working conditions have remained relatively the same over the years the investigators were employed at the factory," the report added.

In response, Hon Hai said it always follows the labor laws and the requirements laid down by the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) and it has set up a mechanism to check from time to time whether its operations meet legal requirements.

Hon Hai said the process of enrollment, training and probation of workers in its work place is carried out according to law, while the company consults with its employees about their willingness before asking them to work overtime and provides comprehensive measures to ensure their safety.

Bloomberg cited a statement from Apple as saying after launching an investigation that it has found the "percentage of dispatch workers exceeded our standards" and that it was "working closely with Foxconn to resolve this issue."

"To make sure our high standards are being adhered to, we have robust management systems in place, beginning with training on workplace rights, on-site worker interviews, anonymous grievance channels and ongoing audits," Apple added.

The CLW report was released on Sunday just before Apple was scheduled to hold a "special event" on Sept. 10. While Apple did not reveal what it will announce at the event, the market has widely anticipated that the U.S. consumer electronics giant will unveil three new iPhones with Hon Hai expected to serve as the major assembler.

In the wake of the CLW report, shares of Hon Hai fell 0.40 percent to close at NT$74.70 (US$2.39) Monday on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, where the benchmark weighted index ended up 0.19 percent at 10,801.14 points.